Crossing On The SILVER SPIRIT, Part Seven

With visits to four Caribbean islands, Peter Knego wraps up his transatlantic crossing aboard Silversea Cruises’ ultra-deluxe MV SILVER SPIRIT.

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Silversea Cruises

All photos by and copyright Peter Knego 2011

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Antigua arrival.

Early morning arrivals can often provide great photo ops with any number of cruise ships pivoting into their respective berths. After peeking out the curtain at a squall and only one other ship in sight, I opted to return to sleep. And maybe, just maybe, because I had grown so accustomed to being at sea, the thought of seeing land was too a grim reality to face.

Overlooking Antigua.

Having been to Antigua several times in recent years, my goal for the day (after enjoying a nice lunch in the air conditioned comfort of La Terrazza) would be to find a high speed internet connection and get some work posted. Easier said than done but ultimately done.

Spirito by the pool.

Back aboard the SILVER SPIRIT in the late afternoon, we watched the CELEBRITY SUMMIT back into a drizzly, patch of grayness. After dinner, we headed up to the pool deck where the festive Spirito Della Celebrazione party was well in progress. The ship’s energetic company were wrapping up a twirling, al fresco performance under the stars and the Moonlight Disco phase of the party was about to begin. But then, as SILVER SPIRIT slowly departed, those stars disappeared and lightning began to flash in the void behind the funnel.

It's raining -- men and women!

As a torrent gushed down on the pool area, crew and cast alike scurried to rescue the gala desert spreads on either side of the pool. Several defiant revelers kept dancing in the deluge and then a gaggle of the fully dressed challenged the rain gods by plunging into the pool. No more shall be written, since what happens on the SILVER SPIRIT stays on the SILVER SPIRIT.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Bow to Saintes

Some ten miles south of the volcanic island of Guadeloupe, Les Saintes is a nine island archipelago that was discovered by Columbus on November 4, 1493. A day short of its 518th anniversary, SILVER SPIRIT dropped her anchor off the town of Terre de Haut.

Saintly SPIRIT.

We enjoyed a leisurely morning by the pool, followed by lunch in La Terrazza. At 2:00 PM, we boarded a tender, first to circle the ship, then to take a walk through the town. In Les Saintes, there were no organized excursions although guests could rent scooters and bikes from shoreside vendors for a ride around the island.

Forming a tricolore of sorts with Jose Manuel Moscoso and Philip Hurst. Photo by Rob Di Stefano 2011.

Rob and I were joined by guest lecturer extraordinaire Philip Hurst and Seville-based photographer and painter Jose Manuel Moscoso, two of the many fine people we had forged a friendship with on this most memorable crossing.

Tenders and canons.

When we arrived, Terre de Haut was in siesta mode with its streets emptied and shops and cafes shuttered. We meandered the waterfront in search of photographic subjects and then into the heart of the town, which offered a contrasting panorama of poverty and riches.

Man with the smiling eyes. Photo and copyright Jose Manuel Moscoso 2011.

Jose Manuel took dozens of images that afternoon and then deleted all but one, which was breathtaking. I am honored that he was willing to share it with me and encourage anyone with an interest in artful photography and paintings to visit his websiteand Facebook page.

SPIRIT in the bay.

We finished our visit to Les Saintes under a statue of a crucified Christ in a cemetery overlooking the bay where SILVER SPIRIT beckoned.

Wine and the blues.

At dinner in Stars, Angela and Michelle provided a jazzy, soulful sonic backdrop to our multi-course tapas extravaganza.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Banana plantation.

Our fun-loving, knowledgeable and occasionally cheeky tour guide Natasha assured her charge of groggy SILVER SPIRIT guests that she would “break us” by the end of the day. The full day Best of St. Lucia tour began pierside in Castries, the island’s capital and wound its way along verdant volcanic slopes through banana plantations, rambling estates and crumbling villages.

Anse le Raye street scene.

We made a pit stop in the fishing village of Anse la Raye, an impoverished but picturesque town, where local souvenirs were hawked. Some were even being thrown.

Pitons and Soufriere.

Rising some 2,500 feet above sea level, the solid lava Pitons are the result of the catastrophic eruption and collapse of a volcano some 400,000 years ago. Our van drove past several overlooks until arriving at the perfect spot with a view that included the town of Soufriere.

Shantytown.

We continued through the post-apocalyptic streets of Soufriere and headed along the ridge between the two Pitons to the luxurious Ladera Resort, which is perched some 900 feet above sea level on the shoulder of the smaller, more pointed, Petit Piton.

Lunch at Ladera.

Lunch at Ladera’s open air Dashene Restaurant was absolutely spectacular. The multi course extravaganza began with a chilled camphor towel and iced ginger tea and ended with a piton-shaped parfait. For an hour, we marveled at the view and the delicious meal, which in every aspect lived up to the impeccable standards of Silversea.

Soufriere street.

Before much longer, our van let us at the Soufriere waterfront where a catamaran would whisk us down the dense, jagged west coast of St. Lucia to Castries.

Pitons in wake.

After a short swimming stop at a black sand beach, Natasha had finally “broken” us. As the rum punch flowed and the music began to pulse, our inhibitions were cast to the wind. The catamaran sailed on!

Bag cleanse.

When we returned to our stateroom, our suitcases were laid out with a card that read, “Your bag was cleaned with an eco-friendly cleaning solvent.” Was there no detail left untended on board the SILVER SPIRIT? What would we do without Ari and Ferdi taking care of everything we needed? Packing and the thought of leaving our perfect sanctuary and newfound friends was almost a bit too much to bear.

Vishal and Russel.

We enjoyed one last night “on the town”, Silversea style. A final get-together in the Panorama Lounge, dinner with a large group of friends in the Restaurant, after dinner chatter in the Observation Bar and a quick farewell to Vishal and Russel, who took such great care of us. Even our suitcases seemed dejected as they awaited retrieval from the passage outside our cabin door.

Friday, November 5, 2011

Mushroom rock.
Barbados botanical.

One more lovely breakfast in La Terrazza and then, the moment we all dreaded most, came to pass. Dark green baggage tags were being called, so off we stepped into the stifling, brutal humidity of Barbados. After a morning tour that included a visit to its north shore beach and a botanical garden, we were delivered to the airport. Our Silversea escapades were now golden memories.

End Of Blog

Special thanks: Brad Ball, Martin Cox, Rob Di Stefano, Gina Finocchiaro, Paolo Percivale

Peter Knego

Peter Knego

Having documented over 400 passenger ships and taken more than 200 cruises, MaritimeMatters’ co-editor Peter Knego is a leading freelance cruise writer, a respected ocean liner historian and frequent maritime lecturer both on land and at sea.  With his work regularly featured in cruise industry trades and consumer publications.  Knego also runs the www.midshipcentury.com website which offers MidCentury cruise ship furniture, artwork and fittings rescued from the shipbreaking yards of Alang, India.  He has produced several videos on the subject, including his latest, The Sands Of Alang and the best-selling On The Road To Alang."
Peter Knego
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